COUNTRY DESCRIPTION: French Polynesia is a French overseas territory located in the Pacific Ocean. It is made up of several groups of islands, the largest and most populated of which is Tahiti. Tourist facilities are well developed and are available on the major islands. For more information, visit Tahiti’s web site.
SMART TRAVELER ENROLLMENT PROGRAM (STEP) / EMBASSY LOCATION: If you are going to live in or visit French Polynesia, please take the time to tell the U.S. Embassy in Fiji, which covers U.S. citizens in French Polynesia, about your trip. If you enroll in the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program, we can keep you up to date with important safety and security announcements. It will also help your friends and family get in touch with you in an emergency. There is no U.S. Embassy or Consulate in French Polynesia. However, there is a U.S. Consular Agent in French Polynesia who can provide assistance.
Centre Tamanu Iti, 1er etage
Punaauia, B.P. 381616, 98718
Punaauia, Polynesie Francaise
Telephone: (689) 42 65 35
Facsimile: (689) 50 80 96
U.S. Embassy in Suva, Fiji
158 Princes Road, Suva, Fiji
Emergency after-hours telephone: 679-772-8049
ENTRY / EXIT REQUIREMENTS FOR U.S. CITIZENS: Your passport must be valid for six months beyond the duration of your stay in French Polynesia. You do not need a visa if you enter on a regular tourist passport and your stay is no more than 90 days per 6 months. Individuals traveling on a Diplomatic or Official passport will be required to obtain a visa. For further information about entry requirements, travelers, particularly those planning to enter by sea, please contact the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs or the French Embassy at 4101 Reservoir Road NW, Washington, DC 20007, telephone 202-944-6200, fax 202-944-6212, or visit the Embassy of France's web site. Additional information is available at GIE Tourisme, Fare Manihini, Boulevard Pomare, B. P. 65, Papeete, French Polynesia, Telephone: (689) 50-57-00, Fax: (689) 43-66-19.
The U.S. Department of State is unaware of any HIV/AIDS entry restrictions for visitors to or foreign residents of French Polynesia. Medical information is protected by privacy regulations in French Polynesia.
Information about dual nationality or the prevention of international child abduction can be found on our website. For further information about customs regulations, please read our Customs Information page.
THREATS TO SAFETY AND SECURITY: Stay up to date by:
CRIME: Although French Polynesia has a low crime rate, petty crime, such as pick pocketing and purse snatching, does occur. You should secure your valuables at all times and remain particularly vigilant at night.
Don’t buy counterfeit and pirated goods, even if they are widely available. Not only are the bootlegs illegal in the United States, if you purchase them you may also be breaking local law.
VICTIMS OF CRIME: If you or someone you know becomes the victim of a crime abroad, you should contact the local police and the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate. We can:
The local equivalent to the 911 emergency line in French Polynesia is "17" for police, "15" for ambulance, and "18" for fire.
Please see our information on victims of crime, including possible victim compensation programs in the United States.
CRIMINAL PENALTIES: While you are traveling in French Polynesia, you are subject to its laws even if you are a U.S. citizen. Foreign laws and legal systems can be vastly different than our own. Foreigners should carry photo identification with them at all times. Respect any sites that for cultural or security reasons have warnings posted against photography. French Polynesia enforces driving under the influence laws, and offenders may be taken to jail. Engaging in sexual conduct with children or using or disseminating child pornography in a foreign country is a crime prosecutable in the United States. If you break local laws in French Polynesia, your U.S. passport won’t help you avoid arrest or prosecution. It’s very important to know what’s legal and what’s not wherever you go.
While some countries will automatically notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate if a U.S. citizen is detained or arrested in a foreign country, that might not always be the case. To ensure that the United States is aware of your circumstances, request that the police and prison officials notify the nearest U.S. embassy or consulate as soon as you are arrested or detained overseas.
Accessibility: While in French Polynesia, individuals with disabilities may find accessibility and accommodation different from what you find in the United States. The law prohibits discrimination against persons with physical or mental disabilities in employment, education, access to health care, and the provision of other state services. The French Polynesian government generally enforced these provisions effectively.
French Polynesia subscribes to laws that require disability accommodations, and many new buildings with public or community space are accessible. However, many existing buildings as well as transportation systems do not yet meet these requirements.
Customs: French customs authorities may enforce strict regulations concerning temporary importation into or export from French Polynesia of some items. Please contact the Embassy of France in Washington, D.C., or one of the French consulates in the United States for specific information regarding customs requirements. Goods arriving on pleasure yachts must be declared at the first point of arrival in French Polynesia. Arms, animals, alcohol, cigarettes, cameras, etc., must be included in this declaration.
Please see Customs Information for additional information.
Some visitors to French Polynesia have reported problems using ATMs with certain kinds of credit and debit cards. Visitors should verify that their ATM cards will work in French Polynesia before traveling.
Natural Events: The official cyclone season is November through April. French Polynesia is located in an area of high seismic activity. Although the probability of a major earthquake occurring during an individual trip may be remote, earthquakes can occur. General information regarding disaster preparedness is available via the Bureau of Consular Affairs’ web site, and from the U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) home page.
Trekking: Due to the steep geography in the French Polynesia, hiking can be hazardous. You should speak with local guides and/or hotel staff before starting a trek. It is best to hike with a companion, carry a cellular phone, inform someone of the intended trail you wish to take, and stay on trails that are clearly marked.
MEDICAL FACILITIES AND HEALTH INFORMATION: Medical treatment is generally good on the major islands but is limited in more remote or less populated areas. In less populated areas when there are no hospitals, medical assistance can be found at the Dispensaire, a French government run clinic. Patients with emergencies or serious illnesses are often referred to facilities on Tahiti for treatment. In Papeete, the capital of Tahiti, two major hospitals and several private clinics provide 24-hour medical service; the main hospital has state-of-the-art equipment and opened in 2010. There is only one recompression facility in French Polynesia, in Papeete. Serious medical problems requiring hospitalization and/or medical evacuation to the United States can cost thousands of dollars. Although some doctors and hospitals are beginning to accept credit card and U.S. insurance payments, others still expect immediate cash payment for health services. Upon request, doctors will come to your hotel but will charge a very expensive travel fee (up to an extra US$120). The government regulates medical visit fees, which are set to 3600F (about US$40).
You can find good information on vaccinations and other health precautions on the CDC website. For information about outbreaks of infectious diseases abroad, consult the World Health Organization (WHO) website. The WHO website also contains additional health information for travelers, including detailed country-specific health information.
MEDICAL INSURANCE: You can’t assume your insurance will go with you when you travel. It’s very important to find out BEFORE you leave whether or not your medical insurance will cover you overseas. You need to ask your insurance company two questions:
In many places, doctors and hospitals still expect payment in cash at the time of service. Your regular U.S. health insurance may not cover doctor and hospital visits in other countries. If your policy doesn’t go with you when you travel, it’s a very good idea to take out another one for your trip. For more information, please see our medical insurance overseas page.
TRAFFIC SAFETY AND ROAD CONDITIONS: While in French Polynesia, U.S. citizens may encounter road conditions that differ significantly from those in the United States. The information below concerning French Polynesia is provided for general reference only and may not be accurate for each location or circumstance.
While most major roads are paved, many secondary roads are not. In urban areas, traffic is brisk, and all types of vehicles and pedestrians jockey for space on narrow streets. Crosswalks are marked, and the law requires that motor vehicles stop for pedestrians; however, this is not always done. Tourists should exercise caution when driving, particularly at night. While extensive sections of the road circumnavigating Tahiti have streetlights, many streets do not. Pedestrians walk along the sides of darkened roadways and sometimes cross in unmarked areas. Bicycles and mopeds are frequently ridden without headlights and taillights. Tourists who rent bicycles or mopeds should be particularly attentive to their driving and the driving of others and not underestimate the danger, even on roads with little traffic.
AVIATION SAFETY OVERSIGHT: Civil aviation operations in French Polynesia fall under the jurisdiction of French authorities. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has assessed the government of France’s Civil Aviation Authority as complying with International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) aviation safety standards for oversight of France’s air carrier operations. Further information may be found on the FAA’s safety assessment page.
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This replaces the Country Specific Information for French Polynesia dated June 2012 to update sections on Medical Facilities and Health Information.